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Not to be confused with a free wifey.

Colourful Past (2)

When I posted the photos below, the automated links threw up an old posting about photos from Old America which in turn linked to the marvellous site shorpy.com

From that site comes this fantastic photo of a country store in Gordonton, North Carolina taken in 1939

Country Store and Gas Station, Gordonton NC 1939

and this taken in June 1940. Melrose, Louisiana. “A crossroads store, bar, ‘juke joint’ and gas station in the cotton plantation area.” 35mm color transparency by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration

By clicking here and here you can go to the site and view the full sized photos above as well as browse some of the amazing old American photos they have there.

Tripoli Loyal?

As the controversy about the release of the “Lockerbie Bomber” rumbles on, what about this from the Record?

Megrahi has not been seen in public since December, but visitors reported that he was “comfortable and surrounded by loved ones”.

One said: “Brother Abdelbaset has been sat up in bed and keeping his mind active.

“He misses certain people in Scotland and was asking about the weather, that kind of thing.

“He wanted to know how Glasgow Rangers, his favourite football team, were doing.”

Blimey! are there not enough conspiracy theories about this case already?

Jimmy Reid

I posted a very brief tribute to Jimmy Reid with a Youtube clip following the announcement of his death. However I’d like to add to that by giving a few thoughts on him after reading some of the obituaries.

My one sentence tribute was “It’s hard to think of any Scottish public figure in my lifetime who commanded such universal respect.”

I’ve noticed that there are plenty coming out of the woodwork who clearly didn’t respect Jimmy Reid one bit. I’ve also read much from those, both on the left and right wings of politics on their distaste for the tributes that have been published about one of Scotland’s most influential sons.

Of course it’s not unusual for the opposite extremes to attract each other and left and right have decided that Reid was vilified during his life and is now being “Dianafied” in the press.

This isn’t something I recognise at all.

Jimmy Reid rose to prominence in 1971 as a communist trade unionist.

Later he was described as a socialist and joined the Labour Party.

In recent years he joined the SNP

By the time of the 1984 miners strike when he criticised Arthur Scargill for the way he was conducting the strike, Mick McGahey described him as “Broken Reid” whilst Denis Skinner called him “Jimmy Weed”.

I think they’d missed the point. Reid may at various stages have been a communist or socialist.

Above all though he was a humanitarian and a pragmatist.

Take the event (The UCS work in) which first brought him to national prominence. It was all about “The Right to Work”. An abstract less aligned with communist thinking is hard to imagine. From the very inception of Marxism, the right or at least the choice to work was to be the right of the individual.

Jimmy Reid however saw what the immediate effect of the yards at Clydebank closing would be on the workers and their families and he fought tooth and nail to save those jobs.

A work in? in other words the opposite of a strike? what a tactic!

I have struggled to come up with the right words to summarise my own admiration for Reid from his early days as a trade union activist and politician to the superbly articulate and witty newspaper columns he wrote for the Herald. Then yesterday I read Kenneth Roy’s wonderful tribute.

This passage sums it up for me.

Since I cannot claim ever to have been a member of the Communist Party or any other party, and since I try to avoid parties even of a social nature, he will be wondering why I am such a prominent contributor to the Jimmy Reid ‘tributefest’. There is a reason, but it has nothing to do with politics…………..
I will spell it out. It is not necessary to share or espouse another man’s political views in order to admire him deeply. It is not necessary to approve of everything he has ever done and said in his life. Jimmy Reid simply made me feel good about living in this country. His love of learning, his passionate curiosity, his restless intellect, his oratorical brilliance, his panache and style, his instinctive feeling for his fellow man, his generosity of spirit and good companionship transcended politics and causes and occasional wrong-headedness and all that stuff. He was one of the great life-enhancers of our time. He represented something good about Scotland. I am not sure what it is – I may be clearer in my view after today – but I know it’s there.

Colourful Past

I asked below when you thought the photo of the bridge was taken?

To me it looked as if it could have been taken yesterday. Given a working knowledge of photographic history and colour photography I’d have reckoned that the photo couldn’t be much more than about fifty years old.

The answer is however quite astounding. The photo, a metal truss bridge on stone piers, part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, crossing the Kama River near Perm in the Ural Mountains was taken in 1910.

As Damn Interesting explains:

Colour film was non-existent in 1909 Russia, yet in that year a photographer named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii embarked on photographic survey of his homeland and captured hundreds of photos in full, vivid colour. His photographic plates were black and white, but he had developed an ingenious photographic technique which allowed him to use them to produce accurate colour images. He accomplished this with a clever camera of his own design, which took three black and white photos of a scene in rapid sequence, each though a differently coloured filter. His photographic plates were long and slender, capturing all three images onto the same plate, resulting in three monochrome images which each had certain colour information filtered out.

Sergei was then able to use a special image projector to project the three images onto a screen, each directly overlapping the others, and each through the appropriately coloured filter. The recombined projection was a full-colour representation of the original scene.

View of Tiflis (Tblisi), Georgia from the grounds of Saint David Church, ca. 1910

Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan), full-length portrait, seated outdoors, ca. 1910

Each three-image series captured by the camera stored all of the color information onto the black and white plates; all they lacked was actual tint, which the color filters on the projector restored.

Tsar Nicholas II fully supported Sergei’s ambitious plan to document the Russian Empire, and provided a specially equipped railroad car which enclosed a darkroom for Sergei to develop his glass plates. He took hundreds of these colour photos all over Russia from 1909 through 1915.

There was no means to develop colour prints at that time, but modern technology has allowed these images to be recombined in their full original colours. The U.S. Library of Congress purchased all of Sergei’s original glass negatives from his heirs in 1948, and in 2001 a beautiful exhibition was produced to showcase Sergei’s photos, called The Empire that was Russia.

A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910

A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand, (in modern Uzbekistan), ca. 1910

More of these absolutely fascinating photos can be seen here

Thanks to Alastair for introducing me to these.

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